MONTREAL - Remember that adorable photograph Christian Folin posted on his Instagram account earlier this summer shortly after signing a one-year contract with the Canadiens?
It wasn't a spur of the moment decision by any means.
Truth be told, the 28-year-old defenseman was just waiting for the right moment to share it with his followers.
"I actually had it saved. One of my buddies, when I got traded to Montreal in February, he posted it on Instagram. I asked him for a copy and I had it saved up for a special moment. At first, I thought about posting it right away after the trade, but I thought I'd hold out for a little bit," revealed Folin, who registered four assists in 19 games with the Habs last season. "When I signed, I thought it was the perfect moment to show the fans I actually wore the jersey when I was three years old. What are the chances? That's probably the first NHL jersey I ever wore, and being able to play for that club is a pretty good feeling."
After his contract situation was settled, the six-year NHL veteran was chomping at the bit to put his gear on again back home in Sweden.
He took three weeks off to rest and recuperate, before hitting the ice to hone his skating skills with coach Niclas Glader.
"The fact that we started skating earlier was the major change. I've never done that before. Usually, I wait until July. But, we wanted to get on the ice when it was fresh in my memory, work on some details and get used to trying some new things," explained Folin. "We worked on starts, pivots and turns. The game is getting so much faster, so you want to improve in those areas and get a little quicker. I've been in the League long enough to know that you want to come to training camp ready to play."
Putting pen to paper on a new one-way deal was certainly added incentive for the undrafted blueliner during his workouts this summer, but seeing the St. Louis Blues claim their first Stanley Cup fueled his competitive fire as well.
Watching the postseason from the outside looking in was a tough pill to swallow, but it only strengthened Folin's resolve to be a real contributor come October.
"You start watching and you feel like, 'We could've been there. We could've done that.' You start thinking of those little things. Even watching St. Louis lift the Cup, I thought it was a tough day. You don't want to see any other teams lift that and you're jealous because you want to be there. But, at the same time that gives you motivation," said Folin. "You look at their season and where they were around Christmas time. In this game, anything is possible. It's just a small window of opportunity and you have to take advantage of it."
And that's exactly what the UMass-Lowell product is prepared to help the Canadiens do in his first full year with the club.
"I want to come back and prove what I did last season, build on that and improve. I still have some really good years in front of me. Throughout my career, I've been getting better and better as time moves on," insisted Folin, who averaged 15:49 of ice time per outing with Montreal, and chipped in with 65 hits and 19 blocked shots along the way. "I think I really showed what I can bring in those games. I want to do that consistently for 82 games."
Taking advantage of his downtime…
Being in Scandinavia is always an enjoyable experience for Folin, who resides in Gothenburg with his girlfriend, Hanna.
"It's always a special feeling coming home and being able to see your parents, brothers, grandparents and your cousins, too," said Folin. "It's nice to go home for a few months, kind of let go of hockey and get ready to get going again."
One of Folin's favorite ways to recharge is to hit the water.
"I love being on the ocean. Basically every chance I get, I want to be out there, You feel so free. The only thing you think about is just how great life is," said Folin. "We have an apartment in downtown Gothenburg, but the water is just 10 to 15 minutes away if you want to go down there."
Concerts are another one of Folin's favorite escapes.
Among the highlights so far this summer was attending a Backstreet Boys gig at the Scandinavium.
"We had so much fun. You grow up and you listen to a bunch of their songs. I even created a list on Spotify with just their songs so we could listen to them in my car after the show. Hanna and I are both fans," mentioned Folin. "We both listened to them when we were younger. Now being able to see their shows, it brings all the memories back."
He also hit up Summerburst, an electronic music festival, with his brothers Niklas and Ludvig.
Folin ventured outside the country as well, travelling to Dubai to play tourist and to Massachusetts for a college buddy's wedding.